Monday, April 26, 2010

CHARTattack - Review

Circle Research: Part Scientist, Part Romantic
by Cheryl Thompson (CHARTattack)

Toronto-natives Nik and Gil have been DJing as Circle Research since the early '90s.
Back in the day, they were strictly hip-hop; today, their music is infused with a little funk, soul, electro-boogie and jazz.

The duo have been together since they were teenagers, and are best described as one part scientist, one part romantic.

"Gil is all scientific and precise and logical with his production style, where as I am more about the passion and risk taking with an unorthodox production style," Nik says.
Circle Research hosted a late-night radio show on Ryerson University's CKLN 88.1 FM for over 10 years.

"Community radio is the only medium that has the balls to play music or discuss topics that are intriguing," asserts Gil.

While Circle Research still do a podcast, the pair are all about new album Gardiner Express these days.

The Urbnet Records release is a bit of a departure from 2008's WHO?, which was a pure hip-hop mixtape.

"The new record is a more mature sound but still incorporates all our hip-hop steez," explains Nik.

"We've kept the hard hitting drums and crackly vinyl samples," asserts Gil, adding, "but we traded in the cuts and scratches for more analog synth-funk.

"We've been old school electro heads since the days when we used to breakdance in Nik's basement, so naturally we added a vocoder into the mix as the vocal element. It lets guys like us — who don’t rap or sing — express ourselves vocally, while adding an electronic edge that compliments our beats."

As for the album title, it truly is meant as homage to the city that made Circle Research what they are today.

"It's the people, the culture, the artists, the action and commotion of Toronto that inspires our sound," Nik says. "The whole Gardiner Express thing is just our own personal experience from back in the day, when we would travel to Toronto to buy records at Play De Record or late at night driving on the Gardiner Expressway to go to a hip-hop jam or concert."

While Circle Research might remix indie rock, jazz or electro artists, they're hip-hop first and foremost.

"I will always think of myself as a hip-hop producer," Nik says. "When you're immersed in a music and culture, it almost feels religious to be a part of it."

Circle Research's breakdancing days are pretty much over, and there's not even a remote chance of this duo rocking the mic, but as Gil says, "Don't get it twisted — it doesn't have to be rapping to be considered hip-hop."

Ultimately, Circle Research, like hip-hop, are an evolving work in progress.